Thursday 22 July 2010

ODTUG - 2 weeks on

I've been back in the UK a couple of weeks now. I decided to leave it a little while before writing this post as I figured it would give me time to fully comprehend the ODTUG conference and what I had done as well as where I had been.

ODTUG Kaleidoscope was the first conference on this scale that I had been to anywhere in the world. I feel one of the luckiest people alive as I got to go while doing a work placement with Sumneva as an attendee and even got to present which was truly amazing, (a blog post on presenting will follow in the next week so I won't talk about that now).

I had never even been to the US before so the conference was a real eye opener for me. I'm not sure what I was expecting before I went but I got that plus a whole lot more. I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly everyone was, I was expecting everyone to be nice to each other but it really showed me how the sense of community spirit thrives within the APEX community.

The people I met at Kaleidoscope truly made the conference fantastic for me. Don't get me wrong the presentations were great and I learned a lot but it was people I met and the friendship I gained that made the conference so wonderful. Unfortunately there are far to many people to list that I met and made friends with, but to all those I met and you know who you are. I just want to say thank you for making it such a great experience and I hope to see you all again soon.

Ok now for some of the great presentations I saw.

I was at the conference from the Sunday so I was up early and ready to go for the...

Sunday Symposium - APEX A to Z
This was really cool seeing and application been built from start to finish. This was definitely a valuable session for me and showed me how different people present in different ways. I'm sure for anyone who hadn't used APEX before this would have been a true eyeopener on how easy APEX is to use and how easy it is to build a new application. This was a great first day and gave me an idea of what to expect for the rest of the week.


I started off watching by watching the keynote speech. We had some fun at the start where the audience participated sending texts and things and ended the first part of the session by announcing the the location of ODTUG Kaleidoscope which is been held in Longbeach California. The second part of the keynote was intriguing, it was someone called Lee Rainie who gave the keynote. He had some very interesting ideas especially on future trends of the internet.

The second session I saw was Anton Nielsen - How to Hack and APEX Application. This was a really cool session, I did know quite a few different ways that an APEX page could be hacked such as manipulating the URL and using firebug to change values but I did learn a few new tricks.

I then had a few hours off and practiced for my presentation at 2.30pm. This was very scary as it got closer and closer but a new blog post will follow to describe in more detail.


I started off the day in Johns Scott's session 'APEX Features We Should All be Using but Probably Aren't' - I work with John every day but thought I would watch his session and I can say I picked up some tips, I don't user master applications as much as I should so something I certainly have to bear in mind.

The next thing I went to was Patrick Wolf's hands on Lab - 'Oracle Application Express Dynamic Actions'. This was really good fun, due to the amount of work I had been doing running up to ODTUG I had very little time to really get to grips with APEX 4 and all its new features. This was great opportunity to have a look at the dynamic actions. We were given a worksheet and a laptop so I gradually worked through the sheet. It wasn't super complex but gave me a better idea of how the dynamic actions worked. I can say that the hands on labs are definitely worth while.

The final presentation of the day for me was Dimitri Gielis - 'Mastering an APEX Page'. It was an interesting session he covered a number of APEX features but the most interesting for me was learning how the debug worked in APEX 4. It's no longer the same, it doesn't appear on the page any more as it did before. You get a popup window to use debug now. It's a pretty cool enhancement from the previous debug.

I decided to watch Dan McGhan - 'JavaScipt in APEX - A Lesson for the PL/SQL Developer' and I picked up a few tips. Dan was an excellent presenter and using a variety of slides he gradually went through using JavaScript and APEX, mainly using jQuery and showed people how easy it is to combine APEX with jQuery to do some really cool things. It was definitely one worth watching and that I would recommend to anyone who wants to use JavaScript with APEX.

My next presentation today was Dimitri Gielis - 'My First Months With APEX 4.0'. I had seen Dimitri present earlier in the week and he didn't disappoint this time either. What he did live was export an APEX 3.2 application and rebuild it in 4. This was a really cool presentation and something that he accomplished with some style. Upgrading to APEX isn't always a smooth transition at the best of times so doing it in front of people was definitely a challenge. Watching him do this was definitely inspirational and I could see the room really appreciated what he did.

Well that's it my adventure was over and it was time to head back home after a day's work and a days sightseeing. It certainly was an unbelievable experience that I will be eternally grateful for getting the chance to do. I enjoyed every minute of it and I just hope one day I will get to go again to see all the great people I met and enjoy the week as I have this year.

This blogpost has taken me a while to write as I wanted to try and get a decent amount of content in it so I hope it has given you an idea of my experience of ODTUG Kaleidoscope 2010.

Thursday 15 April 2010

Apex 4 - Tree vs Component View

The first time I logged into Apex 4 and clicked onto a page of my application to see all my page items in the tree view which I had never seen before live was definitely an experience with such a major change. Having heard of the new tree view but not read any documentation it was very different and took a few minutes to get my head round. I have outlined some of the pro’s and con’s of each view below.

Tree View
Although this is very different once I began to play around with it a little you soon realize it is actually very versatile. The layout once you have worked it out is definitely better. You can customize which elements of the page you want to see at any one time. You can access your report columns directly from the tree, it saves you time digging into the report and then selecting that column. This makes editing the columns much quicker and also easy to see columns in multiple reports at one time.

Another great addition is the ability to right click on anything within your page and get an action menu. From this action menu you have the ability to very easily create computations and validations on page items without having to dig down into multiple menus. The right click is a vast improvement saving you time in a number of areas.

So the bad things about it. It does take you a while to work out where all the page regions are now located. You have to open regions up with plus icon each time, you do have the expand all option but this can make your page rendering section quite long.

Component View

This view is very simple to understand, I think previously using Apex is a big part of the reason however. It’s very simple to edit any items on the page with a single click. All the items on the page are under their individual regions which makes easy viewing. Each region has a plus icon next to its header which allows you to quickly create items to go within that region.

So the cons, you nearly always have to scroll to see the things at the bottom of the page. To edit your report column you first of all have to click on the link for that report and then click the edit Icon to make changes. To copy items also takes 2 clicks to first of all select copy and then choose your item.

Initially I did find the tree view a little more daunting having used Apex in the past and it looking so different. As I’m someone who enjoys playing around with new things I looked on it more as a challenge than a problem as I imagine will most developers. For a new user it won’t make any difference at all as they won’t have used either so will have to learn both views.

I will definitely be using the new tree view as it saves you vast amounts of time with the new right click menu. Your not constantly scrolling from top to the bottom of the page. The layout allows a lot more customization allowing you to view only certain elements of the page.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

My first blog post

Well where do I start. It's been a hectic last 8 months to say the least. I completed my 2nd year in university last June and left to complete a work placement year before I return this September to finish my degree.

I started working with John Scott and Dimitri Gielis from the Apex Evangelists in July 2009. I thought I had a reasonable understanding of Apex and SQL before I started. How wrong was I, I hadn't even touched the surface. Since then I have been working on a number of projects learning a variety of new skills and how to make Apex work for me.

I have learned far to much to write in this post but I will try and blog some of it over the next few months.

One of the most high profile projects I have been working on is the PL/SQL Challenge.

This was an idea thought up by Steven Feuerstein in association with Finn Ellebaek Nielsen. It is set to launch well in a few hours, it has been an ongoing and challenging project putting together the application and all the different elements that were associated with it. It is now ready to go and we are looking forward to the launch.

I advise everyone who knows even the basics of PL/SQL to have a go, test your knowledge and win cash prizes. It's well worth a try.

I'm not going to talk any more now.

I hope to post more in the near future.

You can also catch me presenting at ODTUG this year.